Q1 Trends and Findings across APAC and Predictions for Q2

13th April 2017

Q1 in APAC has been much like the end of 2016 and Q4; busy. From information, I was told we expected January, and to a degree February to affect us due to many people taking time off between New Year and Chinese New Year. We were prepared for a severe drop in activity and billings. Quite the opposite! February was our second busiest month since opening and with a very good March this made Q1 MCG Hong Kong’s best Quarter since opening in 2016.

It’s hard to predict ‘trends’ as Hong Kong has been up and running for just over seven months, and in that time we have been finding our feet in the region. We have however, seen some clear indications of traction in key areas.

The keys areas that we as an office have naturally happened to focus our efforts, and had the most success in have been within my sector of heritage; Design and Creative alongside two staple MCG arenas, Digital and PR. With the addition of Tom Watterson from Dubai joining us here in Hong Kong at the start of May as a Director I’m confident that we can help to build on the success and traction gained in the PR and Communications field both here in Hong Kong and Singapore.

MCG Hong Kong is proud to have placed in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Bangkok, Singapore and of course on our home turf of HK. Positions have been varied in terms of level, from junior to heads of departments, creative to client service and from strategy to business development. We have helped place expats and locals alike as well as being on the PSL of small boutiques through to large group-owned agencies and a handful of global clients.

Clients in APAC have, like it seems globally, been cautious in hiring. Snap judgments are scarce and that’s no bad thing. It allows for a thorough hiring process that so far has generated a very stable pipeline and successful long term placements happy in their new roles. Senior level roles are plentiful as agencies see that investment in the right talent is key to long term growth and success in the region.

Languages have been a huge factor in hiring in Q1 and I see no change rolling into Q2. Many agencies prefer Chinese speakers or those that have been immersed in the China market both as a cultural awareness standpoint and so that they know the speed and quality expected by demanding Chinese clients. We have seen some rather ‘stubborn’ agencies now look to open the brief up to allow expat talent through the doors as the local market has been exhausted, however this is rare. On the flip side some businesses that rely heavily on the written word demand well-educated Westerners. This is unlikely to change in Q2.

The success of Hong Kong had allowed us to very seriously look at, and agree that Singapore is the next natural home for MCG to open a base in. Both Justin and I had a very successful trip in February of this year and I will be there again towards the end of April to meet prospective talent to head this office up as well as new and existing clients alike. It’s a hub with many parallels to Hong Kong however also allows a very different and diverse sell to talent in the region so we believe it’s the perfect partner to Hong Kong.

Q2 and beyond into 2017 will see Hong Kong become more specialised in our key sectors of Design & Creative, Digital and PR and Communications, developing the relationships we have worked so hard to secure as well as personally investing more time in the growth of Singapore and the region in general. I’m looking to see us mirror on the success of MENA with Tech and Media as well as wanting to build a stronger presence in the Client Side space so that we can really offer talent the very best possible range of roles in time. MCG Group has a number of offerings from MCG Knowledge to Hopscotch and Kemistry, all of which have a home in APAC. Again, working with Justin and Nick Clements our COO we plan on rolling these services out over 2017/2018 to help candidates and clients have a truly immersive 360 degree offering from MCG.

Based on Q1, Q2 promises to be every-bit as exciting and rewarding for APAC; watch this space!